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Almanza Day (25 April) was kept by the Norfolk Regiment in memory of the 324 men of the 9th Foot who were killed or wounded out of a field strength of 467 at the 1707 battle in Spain. It is popularly believed that the figure of Britannia was conferred on the regiment by Queen Anne for the courage displayed by the regiment in the battle. A century later the 9th were in Spain again, their belt plates shining with Britannia.
Royal Leicestershire Regiment drummers, c. 1963. Full-length tigerskin aprons were adopted for all drummers of the regiment in India during the 1920s to promote the regimental badge and nickname. (Leicester Mercury)
Locals mistook her for the Virgin Mary and other regiments took the opportunity to mock the 9th as 'The Holy Boys'.
Sobraon Day (10 February), from the Lincolns, celebrates the remarkable advance of the 10th Regiment on the Sikh artillery at Sobraon in 1846. It is said the battalion marched through a hail of shot and shell in perfect order and with a silent progress that chilled the enemy.
Hindoostan Day (25 June) is what the Leicesters knew as Royal Tigers Day. It celebrates the time in 1825 when King George IV approved a tiger emblem for the 17th (Leicestershire) Regiment to mark its nineteen years of active service in India between 1804 and 1823. The tiger, superscribed HINDOOSTAN, became the cap badge of the Leicestershire Regiment, whose members revelled under the collective nickname of 'Tigers' as a result.
Talavera Day (27 July) honours the 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment at the Battle of Talavera in 1809. In the heat of the battle the 1st Battalion was rushed forward to strengthen a weak point in the line and the Duke of Wellington afterwards wrote of how 'the battle was certainly saved by the advance, position and steady conduct of the 48th'. The Northamptonshire Regiment displayed the battle honour 'Talavera' on its cap badge, and on its collar badge in the form of a wreath around its Militia shield, which displayed the Rutland horseshoe. On Talavera Day in the officers' mess a silver cup, purchased in 1877, would be charged with champagne at dinner and passed round in a solemn toast to Col Donellan and his men who fell on that day.
Blenheim Day (13 August) remembers the 16th Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, when it was registered among those sustaining the highest casualties. Blenheim was the regimental day of the Bedfordshire Regiment.
The Royal Anglians' membership of the Wolfe Society came through the Suffolks, Leicesters and Northamptons. James Wolfe and his brother Edward served as ensigns in the 12th of Foot, and carried Col Duroure's colour at Dettingen. His motto Stabilis (Steady) was adopted unofficially by the Suffolk Regiment. The 17th Foot fought under Wolfe at Louisburg in 1758 and the Leicestershire Regiment honoured his memory in several ways; the band played Wolfe's Lament on 1st Battalion church parade, the officers' grey mess waistcoat was heavily braided in black and the mess silver was encompassed by black crepe on guest nights. The Northamptons' connection lay with their 48th and 58th Regiments, both of which fought under Wolfe in his Canadian campaigns of 1758/9. When he fell mortally wounded at Quebec it was the surgeon of the 48th who attended him.
A regiment's drums are respected for the honours emblazoned on them, and consequently protected when danger threatens. The Bedfords' Mons drum was the sole survivor of a set that was urgently thrust into the care of French villagers during the Mons offensive of 1914. It was eventually traced and returned to a place of honour in the regiment where it was paraded on special occasions. The Cambridgeshire Regiment TA, which was seconded to the Suffolks in 1961, buried its drums in the jungle at the time of the fall of Singapore in 1941. They were recovered in 1945, but only paraded in silence thereafter as a solemn mark of respect for the 784 Cambridge lads who never returned from Malaya.
In 1968 the four regiments grouped together as the Light Infantry Brigade were amalgamated into one large regiment. The term 'light infantry' was first used in the eighteenth century for companies selected to operate in the rough country of North America like the natives, unfettered by parade ground uniforms and rigid martial doctrines. In 1802 Sir John Moore opened a training school at Shorncliffe, where he gave birth to the Light Division, a term still used today to embrace the Royal Green Jackets (RGJ) - as Moore's infantry became - and the Light Infantry (LI), which represents the English county regiments that were converted to the light role after 1808.
Light Infantry colour serjeant in the regiment's green No. 1 dress, with the 'wrong way round' sash and Inkerman chain. The use of the beret with ceremonial attire is a rare sight among infantry regiments without hackles. (Grenadier Publishing)
Regimental headquarters LI, first established at the KSLI barracks in Shrewsbury, were later moved to Winchester, the training base of the Light Division and traditional home of the 'Greenjackets'.
Drummers of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment in full dress with the green pagri adopted to distinguish their helmets from those of the Royal Marines